Thursday, April 1, 2010

Chicago Reader 1999: Radical Chick

A hat-tip to "IrishPirate" for linking to this insightful Chicago Reader article from 1999 featuring Ald. Shiller.

By Ted Kleine
Senator Jesse Helms--who stands as far to the right as Alderman Helen Shiller does to the left--once said, "The other side could nominate Mortimer Snerd and he'd get 45 percent of the vote."

That's true in Shiller's 46th Ward too. In 1995, as an incumbent running for her third term, Shiller won 57 percent of the vote against committeeman Bob Kuzas, a machine tool with no grassroots support. It was considered a landslide, at least by Uptown standards. When she first took the seat in 1987, Shiller beat Alderman Jerome Orbach by only 498 votes, or a margin of 2 percent.

Since then, the 46th Ward City Council race has been a quadrennial class war. Half the voters think their alderman is Saint Helen of the Slums, a champion against greedy developers who want to bulldoze battered women's shelters and replace them with luxury town homes. The other half think she's the commissar of the People's Republic of Uptown, a crabby hippie whose socialist ideals might be considered quaint if they didn't result in homeless people peeing on the front lawns of Buena Park mansions. Continue Reading


  1. You're very welcome UU.

    I have a memory like a set of Funk and Wagnalls Encyclopedia purchased individually at Jewel in the 1960's.

    Combine that with "the google" and voila: link to da Reader story.

  2. Search this document for "schiller" and then read the whole document. You will notice that narrative explaining how difficult it used to be for the Friends of Shiller to engineer electoral victories. Compare that to today where the Friends of Shiller can take money from her opposition and redistribute it to her allies and pretend that she and the same allies have some sort of hiring authority over incoming assets the redistributed capital has financed.

  3. "And some home owners in the group recall that when Shiller was first elected she told them 'I don't represent you.'"

    And you still don't! Enjoy your last 300 plus days of public service.

  4. I love you Helen! You Go Girl!!!

  5. I like how she used to get out there with her constituents. I feel like now, she doesn't even try.

  6. I find it odd her son Brendon goes by Shiller instead of Zalkin.

    Thank god she will be gone soon and all of us struggling evil condo owners will have representation.

    Gangs and violence kind of fits into her ideology doesn't it?

  7. thanks for the posting the link to the federal appellate court ruling, an interesting episode in the ascension of Shiller, the County deciding they've had enough of a neighborhood health clinic being used as a campaign front and cutting off funding, Shiller & comrades suing to restore funding

  8. Interesting article. What it proves to me is that she has been in office for almost 24 years, and she still can't control the drug dealing, shootings, break-ins, riots, public drinking, etc... This was evident during the positive loitering event last night.

    She'll try to take credit for anything that is nice in the ward, although she fought tooth and nail to prevent it.

    If she cared and represented EVERYONE, she would participate in positive loitering and help calm the "hot spots" in the ward. There is no reason that the parks (Bronco Billy) shouldn't be lit up at night, that Sunnyside should be used as anything other than a living room for drug deals, and Clifton used as a street - rather than a place for public drinking and peeing.

    I've tried to look through her eyes, but the woman is jaded with her preconcieved notions that everyone is racist and hates the poor. She's just plain wrong and out of touch and will never change. We need her out of here to see any positive change.

  9. Like a lot of radical hippies, Helen was raised in comfort and privilege, so she could run wild in her youth knowing she had a safety net. And sure enough, by middle age, she wanted a six-figure job and a house in a nice neighborhood. Which she fights hard for. And then demonizes the homeowners in her ward that simply want what she believes she is entitled to - a decent life for themselves.

    For all of her empty words about equality and fighting for the disadvantated, do we really think her grandchildren will go to Uplift for school? Or are they more likely to to go, say, Whitney Young?

  10. I think the TIF funding that goes to ONE for "art training" for art works that never materialized is her new game. ONE gets funded and public housing residents get recruited to go to ONE's new headquarters (funded by the Lawrence TIF at Leland house -- thanks for moving them south Mary Ann Smith) to fulfill their CHA housing requirement to either work part time or attend "arts training." Query how much art work is produced versus ONE political recruitment with our TIF dollars.

  11. I found this article to be very enlightening. I like the ideals espoused by Shiller but I have to say that she does take things to an extreme at times. I like that she thinks about the single mother or the elderly man with MS as it's important for societies to nurture their weakest members. At the same time, it's not exactly the single mothers that make me nervous when I walk to the EL at night. As a gay man living near this ward I was also interested to see her outreach to the gay community...though it's not like she can really do anything in terms of policy to benefit us. I live in ward 48 but right near the border with 46. It's not just her ward that's effected by the decisions she's made and I am saddened that I won't be able to show my support for Reed at the ballot box. On a final note, that area around McCutcheon is just sad. Somebody has to think of the children outside on the blacktop when they think about zoning and such.